Don’t get me wrong. I love me some Bey. She’s a goddess. I would send her as the world ambassador to greet the aliens. But all the hype around the no-hype album only, visual ‘experience’ needs to be understood for what it is.
Superstars Get Noticed For Being Superstars – You Don’t
We pay for magazines with photos of superstars at lunch. No one is going to buy a magazine because there is a photo of your band munching on a pastrami sandwich at Canters.
Similarly, when the biggest superstar in the world quietly releases her album only, video experience (with a monopolizing iTunes masthead feature), people care. If you were to try this, your instagramed sandwich would get more attention.
Remember When CDs Cost $18.99?
That was a low point in the music industry. The past. When people were forced to spend nearly $20 for the 1 song they liked. The reason Napster thrived wasn’t because people didn’t want to pay for music, it’s because they just wanted the one song and didn’t want to pay $20 for it. iTunes and Spotify solved this and people who still debate piracy are out of touch and haven’t found the window that opened when the proverbial door closed. This release is kind of a throwback to CD/DVD double disc releases. It’s different in 2013. It worked today. It won’t work again.
This Is The Exception, Not The Rule
Team Beyoncé thought to themselves, “how can we shake things up.” And they did it. This is not where music is moving. The only reason this stunt worked is because it came from the biggest superstar in the world. Don’t expect this to ever be repeated by anyone – let alone DIY artists. I dare you to release your next album like this with 0 promo. The general public will ignore you and your fans will spit on you for not allowing them to at least preview the damn songs (in their entirety).
Innovate Or Die
Come up with creative ways to release your album. Or singles. You are creative people, use that creativity in the business realm. Team Bey did it. Meditate on it. Smoke on it. Drink on it. Sleep on it. Just don’t sit on it. Don’t release your album the same way everyone else has and expect it to magically get discovered.
Radiohead was the first band (on such a large scale) to offer the “pay what you want” model and it worked magnificently for them. Andy Grammer went viral based on his interactive music video. Ari Hest (no relation – duh) created the 52 project and released a new song every week for a year to subscribers who signed up for $20. Just do something different.
Have you previously released your album creatively? Did it work? Please share in the comments.
True Fan Packages
Yes, “true” fans will pay more up front for expensive packages. Be it a physical package for $50 containing a vinyl, T, sticker and signed lyric sheet, or an album only, video experience download for $15.99. But DIY artists’ true fans can only get you started. You may sell a hundred or so packages initially (if you have thousands on your email list), but if you want to expand your base you need to inspire new audiences. You can’t expect someone who hears your music from a friend’s stereo to go and buy the $50 package (or the $15.99 album), but they may Like you on Facebook, follow you on Instagram and Twitter, then check you out on SoundCloud and YouTube then add you to a playlist on Spotify and then buy a ticket to your show when you tour through (from the SongKick notification ON Spotify) and then at the show buy a Tshirt and Vinyl of their (new) favorite album they’d been rocking for months. Bam $50 on a NEW fan. Didn’t come on day 1, but now you have a lifelong fan.
Build It Slow and Steady
On top of everything, don’t expect your next release to go viral on day 1. Create a fantastic release strategy to get it started, but keep cranking away at it. Remember it took Mumford and Sons nearly a year to reach US radio once their first album was released. Engage with your current fans and continue to release content regularly: instagrams, tweets, videos, cover songs, acoustic versions, demos, blogs, vlogs, vines, on and on until you’re next full album release (which can be hailed as your historic piece of art amongst all of the regular filler content).
If you respect your fans and continue to shower them with engaging content, they will gladly pay you when the time is right. It’s not all about download sales in week 1. There are so many more ways to make money with your music career. The music industry is GROWING. It’s a beautiful time.
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based DIY musician and the creator of Ari’s Take. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake